Category Archives: spiritual growth

The how’s and why’s of God’s Spirit of judgement and fire?

‘… he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.’ (Isaiah 4v4)

It is easy in this verse to misunderstand what is being said by the prophet. The reference to a spirit of judgement and a spirit of fire seems to suggest that multiple spirits are in operation – each with their own particular function. And yes, our New Testament understanding is that there is One God and One Spirit so how are we to understand this?

For me, this passage speaks of the future way in which God will operate in the world – a time that was heralded at the first Pentecost in which the visitors from many nations came to Jerusalem are were cut to the heart by Peter’s words (Act 2) as he tells them the way to God is through Jesus Christ who was crucified by one and all who fail to believe his message. ‘What must we do?’ comes the collective reply of the visitors who are mortified and experiencing judgement as the spirit touches them. ‘ Repent and be baptised,’ replies  Peter as God’s Holy Spirit, like a fire descends on the visitors, who then go back to their communities taking the message of God. In short, in this instance – One Spirit- two functions: to help people recognise their need for forgiveness and (once achieved) to physically, mentally and spiritually receive God into their lives as the Holy Spirit indwells them as Counseller, Guide and Enabler (to name but a few). Be blessed and know God’s Spirit lives within


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The benefit of Christ in us?

“I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

Hot on the heels of the last post, Ezekiel is future telling what exactly will happen for everyone – God’s Spirit will enable the people to come close to God. Unlike the person before who when physically meeting with a king is required to keep their head bowed out of fear that their unworthiness of being in such a position will affect them –  the Holy Spirit within each of us  now facilitates a sense of peace and acceptance that we are in a relationship with God in which we will not be rejected because Christ lives in each  – and God will not reject those in whom He lives!

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Why you shouldn’t wait to be taught about spiritual gifts…

A few years ago, I taught a lovely group of people from a local church about primary and formational gifts. What was great was seeing their eyes light up as they discovered the different ways God had equipped them to be pastors, evangelists, prophets, teachers, preachers, servers etc. During the debrief afterwards, only a couple said they knew their primary spiritual gift prior to attending – the vast majority had no idea what their unique  spiritual gift was, which got me thinking….

Is it the case that there is not enough teaching on spiritual gifts within the church?

Now, although many churches extol the importance of spiritual gifts, few prioritise it in their teaching schedules. One reason for this I believe is a presumption by leaders that the flock will somehow discover their spiritual gifts for themselves. Aside from the reality that this is an unlikely outcome it also highlights the worrying reality of how not all church leaders are aware of the importance of exercising spiritual gifts – basic and supernatural.

There are many reasons why this happens. Sometimes, the minister may not understand the subject well enough themselves and avoids teaching about primary and supernatural gifts. Other times, the emphasis might solely focus on a reliance of  ‘supernatural gifting’  (tongues, prophesy, interpretation, etc) at the expense of basic spiritual gifts.

All of which means,  every christian has a responsibility to research and discover their spiritual gifts for themselves. When hungry, we don’t wait  for someone to feed us. Likewise, we shouldn’t wait for a minister to do it for us. Indeed, it could be the minister’s primary gift s not as a teacher which means  you may have to provide that particular sermon series. Okay, if you don’t know your primary spiritual gift and the others that accompany it, then take the free spiritual gift test now by clicking the link below. 

All the best!

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Do you know how God has spiritually equipped you to build the Church?

There are many reasons why Christians  may fail to discern their spiritual gifts within their churches. In the series starting today we will consider six reasons. The first of these being:

‘a pervading culture of volunteerism.’

It’s no surprise that many church leaders when faced with gaping holes in church minstry areas often resort to taking matters in their own hands. For some, this might result in a plea from the front of church seeking  people to help with youth work. Or to assist with creche. Or to be part of a social action group or children’s ministry.  Naturally, it makes perfect sense to ask people to help out where no one presently exists  to run it. However, useful as volunteers are as a temporary fix to an ongoing problem, they are never the complete answer as that will always involves someone with a God-given passion for the ministry and the accompanying spiritual gift that will drive and sustain it in the long term.

What usually happens when servant-hearted people  help out with a spiritual ministry outside of their own passion and calling is that they find themselves ill-equipped for what they have been asked to do. While there is nothing wrong with helping out in the short-term, problems occur when ‘temporary’ ends up replacing ‘long term.’

While volunteerism is always a short-term fix for churches, the wise minister audits his or her congregation to elicit each person’s passion and the primary spiritual gifts they possess – maybe as teacher? Or preacher? Or pastor? Or evangelist? etc.  Only as leaders move to this type of forward planning will the need for volunteers be replaced  by a congregation where each person knows their God-given passion and equipping that is ready-made for that particular vacant ministry within the church. Be blessed!

ps If you don’t know which one of the eleven spiritual gifts is your primary spiritual gift – that is, the one you should occupy a large percentage of your ministry time – why not  take the test to find out.

Be blessed!

ps You will need to be connected to printer to download materials and descriptors.

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‘Lamp of the Lord or God speaking through another?

‘The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being.’            (Proverbs 20v27)
Interestingly, a footnote to v27  renders this verse in a way that reads:
‘A person’s words are the spirit of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being’
For me, both translations make sense as it is about God’s intervention with wayward human behaviour.  In short, it’s about change and spiritual growth. Change that may occur directly as God convicts the person of selfish behaviour and wrongdoing but also through others who speak at His behest to  that person where they are unreceptive to change.
Whatever approach God takes, it is His to initiate and the motivation is always clear as the Divine is about transformation! God transforms all who are open to His Holy Spirit’s prompting. Why?  So that our inmost being – the communication centre by which we commune with God – will function in ways that keep us attuned spiritually (but also physically, mentally and emotionally) but also make us good news in the world to those around us. Be blessed.

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The ‘how to’ on growing God’s kingdom?

‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.’ (Matthew 9v37)
Okay, having dealt with the binary understanding of how a person either knows or doesn’t know their spiritual gift, we turn our attention to a fourth response people sometimes give as a reason for not deving deeper into investigating their spiritual gifts- that being:

 ‘I already know my spiritual gift’ (note: singular).

Now while it is true that God gives all believers one ‘stand out’ spiritual gift – often referred to as a ‘primary gift’ – which should be used most of the time, there is potential to possess a Continue reading The ‘how to’ on growing God’s kingdom?

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Why becoming a new creation is dependant on spiritual gifts?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5v7Having outlined in the last two posts why believers should be proactive in the pursuit and development of their spiritual gifts,  a third reason that Christians sometimes use for avoiding this process is:

‘You either know or you don’t know!’

Behind this rather fatalistic maxim for life is the idea that every person’s understanding of spiritual matters is somehow set in stone and impossible to change. Indeed, the statement is ludicrous when taken considered in the context of education of others. Imagine saying to a mother concerned about her daughter’s behaviour at school, that she shouldn’t worry because she ‘either knows or she doesn’t.’ Such advice would be risible at best because as humans we are designed to learn, change and adapt. More than that, we expect the same of others.

As spiritual beings we have a responsibility to grow and learn. This means setting aside useless excuses and committing ourselves to the task of spiritual growth. Which for Christiand means doing everything within our power to understand how it is that we have been spiritually equipped and what we should be doing to serve God in this world. No mean feat but then, there’s is no higher calling.

If you don’t know your primary spiritual gift, why not take the test by clicking on this link . All the best,


ps you will also discover your formational gifts as well!

pps you will need a printer to print out the test.

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Choosing God even when crushed?

‘A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.’ Proverbs 15v13

In understanding this verse in context, it’s necessary to consider the verses that have gone before it which present us with the binary choice of God’s rule versus human choice.

Right from the start of Proverbs 2 we see it in that the reader is presented with two options: either to ‘turn away from wrath’ or ‘stir up anger’ (v1). Likewise, in the verse that follows, it is about choosing the Divine knowledge or making poor choices in regard to God’s kingdom and sovereignty (v2). Similarly, the observation that the person who seeks to make amends will prevail over those whose speech is negative and destructive (v4). All of which will eventually lead us to v13 and the observation that:

‘A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.’

But what does this mean? Well,  in the previous post –  click here to read it – we considered how the term ‘spirit’ was understood in three different ways during Old Testament times.  In one, ‘spirit’ refere to God’s Holy Spirit temporarily resting ‘on’ the person. In another, its  the person’s spirit? And lastly, ‘spirit’ might be best understood as a case of semantics because  3000+ years ago, people were quite happy to liken the distress of their heart as an event that crushed as much spiritually as it did physically and emotionally.

So what’s the takeaway? Well, both good and bad events will visit us in this life. Some will be pleasant while others will crush us for a time but may end up bringing us closer to God. Both are valid and God -who knows the number of hairs on our head – cares about our wellbeing – something worth remembering and reflecting on when next we go through difficult times.

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Do you know the spiritual gifts God has given you?

…or put another way, have you ever done a spiritual gift test?

‘For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.’  2 Timothy 1v6-7

As a minister, I often meet mature christians who only have a vague idea of what their spiritual gifts are and how they should use them. Delving deeper as to why this is, the reasons I often hear are things like:

  • I never really thought about it
  • I don’t bother with that sort of thing
  • You either know  or you don’t
  • we have all the spiritual gifts (which is kind of true but not much help)
  • I just make the tea and coffee
  • We don’t receive much teaching on that sort of thing in our church.

Today, I’ll consider the first of these: I never really thought about it. Actually, this is not as lame as it sounds because there is a dearth of teaching on the basic spiritual gifts in the majority of churches – by that I mean, many people attend on Sunday with little idea of the gifts that build up the church (Romans 12v6-8 etc) and how God has equipped them for the role they should be fulfilling within it.

Often, this may be because ministers themselves have little or no understanding about primary spiritual gifts and will opt for the safer option of teaching about supernatural gifts. Important as these are,  they exist to compliment and enhance the backbone of the church which are gifts such as  teacher, pastor, evangelist, server etc.

Now,  if you do not know your primary gift, you should be making it a priority to find out what it is . Don’t wait for your minister to do a series or take you aside. It’s your responsibility! Be bold.

ps those who are interested can take the no cost primary gift test by clicking here on primary gift.


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Are you pursuing God’s wisdom over everything else?

‘Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead.’
Proverbs 2 v18
Like so much reading of scripture, context is everything! Indeed, to read v18 in isolation is to miss what the chapter is all about which centres on our fidelity to God, the wisdom to not fall away and how to avoid being seduced by earthly things and pleasures.
And of course the opposite of wisdom is the desire to pursue poor choices and allow oneself to be seduced – a decision that is not differentiated by gender as both male and female can fall foul of temptation. ( I add this as the writer of Proverbs 2 uses a man in the illustration). Hence, in context, the verses read:
‘Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God.[a]
18 Surely her house leads down to death
and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return
or attain the paths of life.’
In other words: like a man who is easily led astray by the promise of pleasure, those who allow themselves to yield to temptation (rather than seeking after God) will soon find themselves controlled by that desire to its inevitable outcome.
With this in mind, choose today to pursue God’s wisdom and knowledge over everything else. By doing this,  true obedience to God will help us to avoid the snares and obstacles that will cause us to trip and fall short in the journey ahead.

Continue reading Are you pursuing God’s wisdom over everything else?

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